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Geothermal Power Technology: Pros and Cons

As the global demand for clean, reliable, renewable energy increases, geothermal energy has become an attractive solution. This is true not only in the United States, but at numerous locations around the world. One area of increased emphasis is Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) which offers the possibility of widely expanding the geographic range of geothermal power plant locations.

Image of geothermal power plant:
geothermal power plant

Electricity generated from geothermal energy (geothermal power) offers a number of advantages:
1. Reliability
2. Renewability
3. Combustion-free
4. Very low emissions
5. Reduction in global warming
 

Potential of Geothermal Energy in the world

The MIT report  about geothermal power calculated the world's total Enhanced Geothermal Systems resources to be over 13,000 ZJ. Of these, over 200 ZJ would be extractable, with the potential to increase this to over 2,000 ZJ with technology improvements.

The key characteristic of an Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) (also called a Hot Dry Rock system), is that it reaches at least 10 km down into hard rock. At a typical site two holes would be bored and the deep rock between them fractured. Water would be pumped down one and steam would come up the other.

In fact the MIT report estimated that there was enough geothermal energy in hard rocks 10 km below the United States to supply all the world's current needs for 30,000 years.

And other important countries considered high in potential for development of geothermal power (geothermal energy) are China, Hungary, Mexico, Iceland, and New Zealand.

Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy

From the perspective of engineering, the geothermal fluid is corrosive and, worse, is at a low temperature, compared to steam from boilers. And by the laws of thermodynamics this low temperature of the geothermal fluid limits the efficiency of heat engines in extracting useful energy during the generation of electricity. Much of the heat energy is lost, unless there is also a local use for low-temperature heat, such as greenhouses, timber mills, and district heating.

However, since this geothermal energy is almost free once the plant is established, the efficiency of geothermal energy of the system is not as significant as for a coal or other powered plant. Although its capacity factor can be quite large, almost up to 90% in practice.
Geothermal Energy

Although geothermal power is a clean energy compared to coal and oil, there are several environmental concerns behind it.

Construction of the power plants for geothermal power  (Geothermal Energy) can adversely affect land stability in the surrounding region.

Advantages of Geothermal Power

Advantages of Geothermal power (geothermal energy) includes:

Geothermal power (geothermal energy) requires no fuel, and is therefore virtually emissions free and insusceptible to fluctuations in fuel cost.
geothermal energy


And because the geothermal power station doesn't rely on transient sources of energy, unlike, for example, wind turbines or solar panels, its capacity factor can be quite large; almost up to 90% in practice.

Geothermal power (geothermal energy) is considered to be sustainable because the heat extraction is small compared to the size of the heat reservoir.

While individual wells may need to recover, geothermal heat is inexhaustible and is replenished from greater depths.

Geothermal energy

What's geothermal power (geothermal energy)? From geothermal, it comes from the Greek roots geo, which means earth. And thermos, meaning heat. That's the meaning of geothermal power: earth heat. Geothermal power is energy generated from heat stored in our earth, or the collection of absorbed heat derived from underground.

The Philippines and Iceland are the only countries to generate a significant percentage of their electricity from geothermal power (geothermal energy) sources; in both countries, 15-20% of power comes from geothermal plants.

But as of 2008, geothermal power (geothermal energy) supplies less than 1% of the world's energy, just a small part.

demonstration of geothermal energy:
 
Geothermal energy
 

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